Usplash is a userspace application that uses the Linux framebuffer interface or direct vesa access to draw a splash screen at boot. It has a companion utility that is able to send commands to usplash, allowing information about the bootup sequence to be displayed in a more attractive way.
Changing the default usplash artwork
To change to default usplash look (tested on Gutsy and Karmic) using the command line, i.e. in a terminal window:
1. First, select an alternative usplash artwork set. You can do this with your graphical package manager or by typing
aptitude search usplash
You'll see a list of packages that contain usplash in their package name or description. Among them are a couple that contain alternative artwork sets.
2. Pick an artwork package from the list and install it, for example:
sudo aptitude install xubuntu-artwork-usplash
3. Now you've got two (or more) usplash artwork sets installed. You'll need to tell your system which one to use:
sudo update-alternatives --config usplash-artwork.so
4. The last step is to update the "initial RAM disk", that is used when your system boots up:
sudo update-initramfs -u
If you skip the last step, you will probably only see your new usplash artwork during shutdown and not when your computer boots up.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 to switch between installed usplash artwork packages.
Using custom artwork with usplash
Of course you can also use your very own artwork with usplash. See: USplashCustomizationHowto
Ubuntu 8.10 and later
If the package "startupmanager" is installed from the Universe repository, the menu option "StartUp-Manager" will appear in the Administration menu, which opens a program that allows you to select Usplash artwork, as well as assorted GRUB options.